Evaluation Report Holiday Activities and Food Programme 2022 - Northamptonshire

Tash Bayes, Eadie Simons, Peter Jones, Tony Kay, Declan Ryan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned Report


Children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be isolated and experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ during the school holiday period because of the increased financial strain on families through this period. Across the two unitary authorities of Northamptonshire (North and West) there is an estimated 87,000 and 101,000 children and young people aged 0-19 years, respectively. In North Northamptonshire, 13.4% (7,491 pupils) of all pupils are eligible and taking Free School Meals (FSM), while in West Northamptonshire, 11.1% (7,397 pupils) of all pupils are eligible and taking FSM, which is below the 16.2% average for 59 local authorities, nationally, but in absolute terms equates to an extra 1,503 and 1,409 more pupils than the national average, respectively1. There is a learning and development gap between children and young people that are eligible and are not eligible for FSM, with 57% of Key Stage 1 pupils eligible for FSM achieving a good level of development compared to 74% of pupils not eligible for FSM, in 2019. Despite FSM offering some financial relief to families during term-time, its absence during school holidays can leave children and young people at risk of experiencing further inequalities. The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme was created to reduce this ‘holiday experience gap’ by providing free holiday clubs, which aim to reduce food insecurities and provide vital learning and development opportunities for FSM eligible children and young people.

In 2021, Northamptonshire Sport co-ordinated the first year of local HAF programme provision. The University of Northampton evaluated the Summer 2021 local programme to identify the barriers and facilitators to programme delivery and the outcomes on children and their families. The current report evaluates Northamptonshire’s Summer 2022 HAF programme, whilst drawing comparisons with the 2021 programme’s delivery and the recommendations provided by the 2021 evaluation to understand how they were acted upon.

The current evaluation utilised a mixed-methods approach to investigate the facilitators and barriers to delivery and the outcomes on children and families by aligning the evaluation’s objectives with the Government’s HAF programme theory of change. Data were collected from co-ordinators, providers, school staff, and parents/carers using a combination of online surveys and focus groups.

Northamptonshire Sport’s contract extension to co-ordinate the HAF programme provided a longer lead-in time, which overcame many of the issues experienced in Summer 2021. There was a greater offer of healthy food and nutrition education to children by holiday club providers in comparison to Summer 2021, with providers utilising the online nutrition education resources that Northamptonshire Sport commissioned in response to recommendations from the Summer 2021 evaluation.

Areas for further investigation include the enhancement of school engagement with the HAF programme, understanding non-attendance and methods to reduce non-attendance at holiday clubs, improving provider’s communication with parents so they are more aware of and play a more active role in the HAF programme, ensuring holiday club providers are suitably staffed to support children with special educational needs, and signposting families to wider support networks and groups that they can engage with outside of the HAF programme provision. Notably, communication is a central theme to these recommendations.

In North Northamptonshire, 24% of eligible children and young people attended the HAF Programme. In West Northamptonshire, 30% of eligible children and young people attended the HAF Programme. Countywide this represents 27% of eligible children attending the HAF programme. A near doubling of uptake from the Summer 2021 HAF programme (15.2%).

Within the Summer 2022 evaluation, it was evident that Northamptonshire Sport made a concerted effort with the longer lead-in time to act on recommendations to improve the quality and consistency of holiday club provision across Northamptonshire, which subsequently led to greater engagement with the programme. The HAF programme clearly supports vulnerable families and funding for the programme should continue in the future.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Northampton
Commissioning bodyNorthamptonshire Sport
Number of pages46
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2022


  • Sport


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation Report Holiday Activities and Food Programme 2022 - Northamptonshire'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this